The range of really cheap rental cars in Portugal are usually from the city car class of hire cars.
Most popular city cars in Portugal rental fleets are VW Up!, Peugeot 108 (Peugeot 107’s are fased out 2014-2015), Citroen C1, Opel Adam, Skoda CitiGo, Seat Mii, Renault Twingo, Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai i10, Fiat 500, Fiat Panda, Lancia Ypsilon, Ford Ka and Kia Picanto.
The new kid on the block is the Opel Karl.
The new Opel Karl is fairly spacious inside for a small car – but absolutely no racer.
The city car rental class – cheapest vehicles for hire
When attaching the term ‘city car’ to a small vehicle, the basic condition is that the car is small – usually less than 3,60 meters long.
Modern city cars, however, often come with 5 doors either as an option to the 3 door version or, as the new 2015/2016 model Opel Karl with 5 doors as standard.
Some city cars like the Opel Adam, Ford Ka, and the Fiat 500 are only available with 3 doors.
Classed below the city class of cars, the stricly 2 person cars of minuscule size and with very limited sporty ambitions are represented with the Smart ForTwo cars – which are available for rent in some locations in Portugal, but due to the two seats only and no room for a normal size suitcase, they tend to have very limited demand by rental customers.
Opel Karl – ultra compact mini with maxi interior
With the new Opel Karl available from August 2015, the most popular cheapest car for rent in Porto Airport might change from VW Up! and Fiat 500 to the new contender
Opel Karl is the new small car front runner for GM in Europe, where the Chevrolet brand of cars has been withdrawn all together.
Chevrolet Spark is one of the few remaining Chevrolet rental vehicles and the spiritual precessor of the Opel Karl (in the UK: the Vauxhall Viva). By 2017 at the latest, all Chevrolet Spark vehicles will have been sold off from the rental fleets.
The new Opel Karl is, in fact, partly based on the Spark, but at the same time it is a step up from the Spark with a much better engine, optional modern connections for the iPhone-generation and most importantly more space inside. Even tall drivers up to 1,95 meters can find a comfortable position behind the wheel in the new Opel Karl/Vauxhall Viva.
Opel Karl boot size.
The engine in the Opel Karl is always the same. It is a 75 bhp 1,0 liter non-turbo gasoline engine with excellent fuel economy. Going over 100 km/h, however, does not really make sense in the Karl. The new Opel is much more a fun runabout for the city driver.
The boot in the Opel Karl will swallow 195 litres which is not bad at all for a small city-car.
VW Up! / Skoda Citigo / Seat Mii
The VW Up! is closely related with its Spanish and Czech sisters the Seat Mii and the Skoda Citigo.
In fact, for the European market, all three of them are built in Bratislava in Slovakia and they are exactly the same car with the same engines, same everything, but with sligtly different badges and small tweaks to the front and rear.
The production started in 2011 and the model is not as fresh as it used to be. It is still very popular though.
The VW Up is frequently offered as the cheapest rental car in Porto Airport.
Peugeot 108 / Toyota Aygo / Citroen C1
In 2014, a new version of the hugely successfull co-production between Toyota and French PSA (Peugeot & Citroen) was launched.
The Peugeot 108, the Citroen C1 and the Toyota Aygo are different in looks, but very much the same cars inside.
In terms of modern solutions, they have the upper hand against VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda CitiGo, and since they are traditionally front wheel driven, the new double act Renault Twingo and Smart Forfour, which are both rear engined, are less of a worry in most markets.
All three are built in Kolin in the Czech Republic in what is referred to as the TPCA plant.
Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 are most often found as rental cars, but also the cool looking ‘cross-faced’ Toyota Aygo is available at certain rental car companies in Portugal.
Toyota Aygo new model 2014-forward.
Renault Twingo / Smart ForFour
Lots of thinking went into these two cars which are revolutionary by modern standards by having rear mounted engines and rear wheel drive.
It works surprisingly well, but maybe it has been too much of a revolution for some fleet owners in the rental car business.
The cool Renault Twingo 2014-forward always has 5 doors.
Not so many are found as rental cars, but you will at times be able to book a Smart Forfour or a Renault Twingo in Portugal with the engine in the same place as in a Porsche 911.
Both cars are built in Slovenia.
The rest of the mini-cars: Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10, Suzuki Celerio, Fiat Panda
As for the rest of the vast selection of mini-cars and city-cars, one contender always had a very strong presence at the car rental companies parking spaces in Portugal.
The Fiat Panda, being cheap to buy (much cheaper than the Fiat 500) and always with 5 doors, was the darling of the rental car industry in Portugal for years.
In 2015, in the fall of its life cycle of the model, the Fiat Panda resale values are not that great anymore, so rental companies tend to shift to more popular city cars for rental purposes. A company like Goldcar still has a load of Fiat Panda cars (by 2015) in the rental fleet.
Sometimes a really good deal is struck on South Korean cars like the Kia Picanto or the Hyundai i10 and the Thai/Indian produced Suzuki Celerio might also get some attention.
For the most of the cheap range rental fleet in Portugal, however, the European produced cars mentioned in the first part of this article dominate the offers for the cheapest rental car in Porto Airport.